WCS North America

Staff

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Heidi Kretser
Conservation Social Scientist
As a Conservation Social Scientist for the Wildlife Conservation Society, Dr. Kretser improves conservation of wildlife and wildlands by using tools and perspectives from the social sciences to incorporate the human dimensions of natural resource policy and management into conservation practice. She is a member of the WCS Social Safeguards Management Team and serves on the WCS Institutional Review Board. Dr. Kretser has worked in conservation over 25 years and has been with WCS for over 20 years in numerous capacities, notably establishing two community-based conservation programs in the Adirondacks and Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. Her current projects include building constituents for conservation through creating effective communication that generates action on topics as varied as wildlife trafficking and white-nose syndrome, devising strategies for reducing the impacts of private lands development and recreation on wildlife, and building collaborative approaches for increasing community and natural resource governance capacity and achieving conservation outcomes for wildlife while safeguarding human well-being across diverse constituents. Dr. Kretser’s work receives research support from many state and federal agencies including the National Science Foundation and the Department of Defense. She is widely published and her work has been featured in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, National Public Radio, and a variety of regional media outlets. She completed her Ph.D. in the Human Dimensions Research Unit at Cornell University and holds a master’s degree from the Yale School of Forestry. In addition to her work at WCS, Dr. Kretser serves as Adjunct Associate Professor at Cornell University’s Department of Natural Resources where she’s affiliated with the Center for Conservation Social Sciences.
Hilary Cooke
Associate Conservation Scientist
Hilary Cooke joined WCS Canada in 2010 as Associate Conservation Scientist for the Northern Boreal Mountains landscape of Yukon and northern British Columbia. Here she works with a range of partners, including First Nation, territorial, and federal governments, to enhance conservation of wildlife and wild places through regional planning, environmental assessments, and land, resource, and wildlife management. Hilary specializes in boreal ecology, forest management, avian conservation, and conservation planning. Since 2010, she has led several field and applied studies aimed at improving conservation and management of Yukon’s valley bottoms for key ecosystems, migratory birds, and species of conservation concern. Through relevant government initiatives Hilary continues to promote science-based solutions to improve conservation for wildlife and wild places across Yukon’s boreal mountains. Hilary began her career with WCS as a member of the North America Program in 1998, where she conducted field studies to inform riparian conservation on public and private lands in semi-arid regions of the western United States. After earning a MSc in Wildlife Management at Humboldt State University in 2002, Hilary returned to her native Canada in 2003 to complete a PhD in Ecology at the University of Alberta. Her PhD research aimed to improve forest management for woodpeckers and other cavity users of old boreal forest. Hilary’s passion for birds and conservation can be found in her blogs published on Muddy Boots, Huffington Post, and Medium.
Jacob Seguin
Ontario Northern Boreal Field Technician
Jacob is the Field Technician for WCS’s Ontario Northern Boreal Landscape Program. He works closely with members of the lake sturgeon and wolverine research teams as he uses his field skills and scientific background to make science work in remote settings. This includes working side-by-side with First Nations collaborators and local trappers at the various field sites, equipment troubleshooting, contributing to scientific design, and downright getting dirty. Jacob completed a BSc Honours in Environmental Science and Biology at Trent University in 2015, and completed his MSc in Environmental Life Sciences at Trent University in 2019. His thesis research used simulated predation attempts to quantify transgenerational effects of perceived risk in hares. Jacob has worked over seven years in collaboration with Canadian and American universities as an assistant and field coordinator for field-based research. He has extensive experience in the southwestern boreal forest of the Yukon Territory, where he led field crews in the live trapping, biologging, and telemetry tracking of snowshoe hares and Canada lynx. He has also worked in boreal forest field sites across the geographic range of snowshoe hares from Maine to Washington.
Research Gate
Jaime Grimm
KBA Research Associate
Jaime is responsible for research and communications for the Canada Key Biodiversity Areas project. In addition, she is key to WCS Canada's outreach and communication strategies and manages our website and social media platforms. Jaime was previously a Conservation Intern for WCS Canada and was responsible for providing research support to our landscape programs and administering the W. Garfield Weston Fellowship Program. Jaime completed her MSc at McGill University, with a research focus on the conservation threats posed by aquatic invasive species. She is a skilled field researcher with taxonomic expertise on marine and freshwater fishes and invertebrates.
Twitter | KBA Canada website | KBA Canada twitter | LinkedIn
Jake LaBelle
Research Coordinator, New York Seascape
Jake joined WCS's New York Seascape program in 2012 as an intern while he was a graduate student at Stony Brook University. Having worked at the world renowned Bimini Biological Field Station (or Sharklab) in the Bahamas, he began assisting WCS scientists working on acoustic and satellite tagging of sharks in New York waters. After receiving an M.A. in Marine Conservation and Policy from Stony Brook, Jake remained with WCS as a consultant, expanding his role to include projects such as monitoring American eels in the Bronx River and a 400-year historical retrospective exploring the relationship between New Yorkers and the marine fauna inhabiting New York's waters over the past four centuries. Now a part-time research coordinator, Jake continues to assist in the collection and analysis of data from all of the New York Seascape's projects as well as providing support for the Seascape's many outreach initiatives.
Jason Rae
Bat Program Manager
Jason is responsible for providing management and research support for the bat program from his base in Nelson, British Columbia. Jason joined the WCS team in early 2016 after completing his MSc at Trent University examining the interactions between predation risk and disease exposure in amphibian tadpoles. Jason’s previous experience includes work as a research assistant examining traditional ecological knowledge of polar bear ecology in Northern Quebec, and estimating the local harvest of resources from 5 communities in Northern Labrador. He currently manages WCS Canada’s North American Bat Monitoring Program in British Columbia, focusing on securing knowledge of bat species diversity and relative abundance through wide-scale acoustic monitoring, roost surveillance, and netting inventories. Among other projects, Jason also contributes to the bat team’s work locating and investigating the habitat where bats choose to overwinter, and modelling white-nose syndrome survivorship prior to its arrival in Western Canada.
Jeff Burrell
Northern Rockies Program Coordinator
Jeff Burrell is the Northern Rockies Program Coordinator for the Wildlife Conservation Society. Jeff joined WCS in 2003 and has a Master's of Science degree in Range and Wildlife Management and a Master's of Science degree in Geology and Geophysics from Texas Tech University. He has more than 30 years of experience with federal and state agencies and Texas Tech University in stream and riparian habitat restoration science in the western U.S. In addition to developing and overseeing implementation of WCS conservation strategy in the Northern Rockies, Jeff leads WCS efforts to bring stakeholders together to conserve and restore wildlife connectivity within the Northern Rockies.
Joel Berger
Senior Conservation Scientist
Dr. Berger directs a number of projects for WCS; among these are the pronghorn migration corridor conservation project and the impact of energy development on wildlife projects in Greater Yellowstone, the impacts of climate change on musk ox in the Alaskan Arctic and the saiga antelope conservation project in Mongolia. Joel received his doctoral degree in biology from the University of Colorado, Boulder, and subsequently worked for the Smithsonian Institution for 7 years before becoming a tenured full professor at the University of Nevada, Reno (16 years). His current research focuses on the conservation of species and intact ecosystems. He has written 4 books on wild horses, rhinos, bison, and fear in prey species. Joel is also the John J. Craighead Chair in Wildlife Biology at the U of Montana.
John Weaver
Senior Conservation Scientist
John Weaver is a carnivore conservation biologist for WCS based in Missoula, Montana with field programs in the western United States and Canada that are focused on large landscape conservation, wildlife connectivity and adaptation to climate change. Over the past 25 years, John has played many key roles in large carnivore conservation in the United States and Canada. His dissertation research was on the ecology of wolf predation in the high-diversity ungulate environment of Jasper National Park, Alberta. John has held leadership positions with the U.S. Forest Service and U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service on endangered species and has served on several recovery teams, including for both wolves and grizzly bears. Over the years, he has perfected hair snaring techniques for lynx and bear surveys and invented a lynx lure that is now widely used. He has authored more than 20 scientific publications and served as a reviewer for five scientific journals. John has an academic appointment at the University of Montana. He is particularly interested in conservation strategies that address the resiliency mechanisms of vulnerable species.
Jon Beckmann
Connectivity Initiative Coordinator
As a Conservation Scientist at WCS, Jon is the Connectivity Initiative Coordinator for the North America Program. As Principle Investigator or Co-PI on several projects in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, the Sierra-Nevada, Great Basin, and other regions of North America, Jon’s current research and conservation portfolio includes: 1) examining impacts of natural gas development on pronghorn; 2) protecting ungulate (pronghorn, moose and elk) migrations by understanding and reducing impacts of wildlife-vehicle collisions and rural residential sprawl in migration corridors; 3) investigating and reducing human-bear conflicts along the wildland-urban interface; 4) using resource selection modeling, Brownian Bridge models, and circuit theory modeling to examine connectivity for large carnivores and ungulates; 5) examining impacts of the border fence along the US-Mexico border on wildlife connectivity (jaguars and other species); and 6) understanding how human-altered environments impact cougar ecology, behavior and population dynamics. Along with >40 publications, Jon is lead editor on a book titled Safe Passages: Highways, Wildlife and Habitat Connectivity. Jon has given over 60 scientific meeting presentations and over 40 invited university and professional training presentations. His research has been the subject of more than 100 radio, television, and newspaper features including NBC Nightly News, Discovery Channel, NY Times, LA Times, Newsweek, National Geographic, and The Wall Street Journal. Jon applies science to affect conservation through the public policy arena; for example, his collaborative field research motivated the $9.7M construction of under- and overpasses on a Wyoming highway to provide the Path of the Pronghorn migration safe passage across the road, and his published research and outreach on human-bear conflicts prompted new bear-resistant dumpster laws and ordinances in several counties in California and Nevada.
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